Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Cavendish sprints to 18th Tour victory ahead of rival Greipel to take the stage win and the Maillot Vert

HTC-Highroad sprinting star Mark Cavendish took his 18th Tour victory on stage 11 after a textbook lead out from Mark Renshaw on the run into Lavaur. With Boom making a brave effort to stay one step ahead of the peloton as it swallowed up the breakaway with less than 4km left to go, he effectively tried to Time Trial his way to the finish. But the relentless effort of HTC-Highroad, Sky and Moviestar saw to it that he was brought back into the fold leaving 2km for HTC-Highroad to set the pieces on the chessboard like Grand Masters of the Sprint.

For much of the day Goss and Bak had done the majority of the donkey work; the peloton knew Cavendish was hungry after being left outgunned by former team mate and rival Greipel on stage 10 and they were going to make his team work for it. With BMC coming to the fore to lighten their burden they ensured Evans maintained his time gap as the race heads into the Pyrenees for stage 12.

Millar (GRM) led with 1km to go and Dean and Hushovd were up front ready to deliver their man Farrar. But the familiar sight of the HTC-Express pulled in, destination: the finish line. Unstoppable as ever, Renshaw carved his way through the melee to deliver Cavendish to his sprint. The line in sight, the Manxman kicked to take the stage a bike length ahead of yesterday's victor Greipel.

Securing the stage win gave Cavendish the maximum sprint points and saw him top of the leaderboard in the points competition and for the first time in this years Tour pull on the Maillot Vert.

Tomorrow the "real" Tour gets underway as the sprinters settle into the background and the GC contenders start to shine through as the race heads into the Pyrenees and to the Holy Grail of the Tour: The Tourmalet.

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